Much was made of Antonio Conte’s return to the Stamford Bridge dugouts for the first leg of Tottenham’s EFL Cup semi-final, but the Italian admitted that the gap to Chelsea was evident as the European champions marched to a convincing 2-0 win on home soil.
Kai Havertz took all of five minutes to open the scoring on the night before a comical own goal settled the contest before half time, as Japhet Tanganga’s attempted clearance from a free kick cannoned off Ben Davies into the back of the Tottenham net.
The Lilywhites were also very nearly humbled in the FA Cup by Morecambe at the weekend, but once reinforcements in the shape of Lucas Moura and Harry Kane arrived from the bench, Conte’s side ultimately booked their spot in the fourth round of the tournament.
That 3-1 win was the latest in a long line of home successes for Spurs under Conte, with the ex-Chelsea and Inter Milan boss winning seven and drawing one of his eight games in charge at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium since arriving in North London.
Spurs have impressively notched up at least two goals on each of those occasions, and they will need to produce a similar sort of ruthlessness if they are to have any chance of turning the tie around against Conte’s former employers.
The strength of Chelsea’s XI versus non-league Chesterfield in the FA Cup did surprise some, but Tuchel ensured that no giant killings would occur at Stamford Bridge over the weekend, as the Blues marched to a resounding 5-1 success.
Timo Werner, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Romelu Lukaku and Andreas Christensen killed the game off before half time, and a Hakim Ziyech penalty further humbled the non-league side before the hour mark, but Akwasi Asante’s consolation made the journey for the travelling Chesterfield fans somewhat worthwhile.
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Still competing for success on four fronts this season, Chelsea’s bid for Premier League glory has lost its momentum in recent weeks, but Tuchel’s side are in no position to turn their noses up to a mid-season trophy as they endeavour to avoid a calamitous collapse in North London.
The Blues have now gone unbeaten in 10 games across all competitions – five of which have ended with the spoils shared, though – but they have struck at least two goals in six of their last seven games on the road ahead of the second leg.
The 2-0 win on home soil last week marked Chelsea’s third win and third clean sheet on the bounce against Tottenham, who have only scored two goals against the European champions in their eight meetings since February 2019